Trail Running Escapes in Southern California

Rising high above the 90265 is a lesser-known number… 3,114. That is the highest elevation in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the posh neighborhood in Los Angeles county more commonly known as Malibu, California. However, this article has nothing to do with divas and everything to do with dirt.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area is home to over 500 miles of trails. It is also one of only five destinations in the world considered to have a Mediterranean climate. Average Spring/Fall temperatures are in the mid 60’s; Summer temperatures are in the mid 70’s and Winter temperatures are in the high 50’s. So why would you explore any other place when the white stuff is falling from the sky? Southern California’s year round pleasant weather means the mountains are open twelve months a year.

Mountains so rich in history and systems of trails bringing them all together, you’d have to run at least 17 miles a day, everyday for 30 days to see all that the Santa Monica Mountains have to offer. Canyons once home to the hit TV series M*A*S*H and caves rumored to be Jim Morrison’s “hang”. You’ll want to fill up your bottle and throw on your sneaks, because there is only one way to get there…by hitting the trails.

A local favorite is the Santa Monica Mountains ridge line trail, also known as the Backbone trail, stretching from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu State Park. Consisting of over 65 miles of nearly all single-track, the Backbone trail follows the ridge while traversing Chaparral covered hillsides, Oak woodlands and crosses creeks on the Valley floors.

Situated only one hour from the Los Angeles International airport, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area consists of over 153,000 acres making it the largest urban National Park. Southern California weather and accessibility to hundreds of miles of trails is why Trail Running Escapes makes it’s home in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. Every Spring, Fall & Winter they offer 5 day trail running camps that explore 40-60 miles and cover over 9,500’ of elevation gain. Trail Running Escapes’ camps showcase the best trails the Santa Monica Mountains have to offer…as only locals can do.

For more information on the Santa Monica Mountains trail running camps, please visit A calendar of camp dates is available on line as well.

Singletrack Stampede ~ Trail of the Ancients



Elevation profile is for one loop ~ 22 K and 2,300′ elevation gain. Marathoners will run two loops for 41 K and 4,600′ elevation gain.

SELF magazine

As a coach, I take pride in guiding my clients to better form and energy efficiency. I also encourage trying new things. So if you come to me as a road runner, I am going to advise you to hit the trails. Highlighted in the November 2014 issue of SELF magazine are a few of the reasons why I say getting outside and getting dirty are good for you.


socalultrarunning is excited to bring you another event in Cheeseboro National Park. Saturday, March 7, 2015 ~ Palo Comado 2-4-6 Trail races.

Chose from 2, 4 or 6 Hour races. Solo or Relay for 6 Hour race.

For more information visit:

Stay connected to race updates and announcements on Facebook. 

socalultrarunning will be bringing the Southern California trail running community trail running events to include races and camps. This Fall, socalultrarunning will be producing the first ever ultra distance trail race in Cheeseboro National Park located in Agoura Hills, California ~ No Name 5030. Offering 50K, 30K and 15K distances, runners will be hitting the trails on Sunday, October 26, 2014. Please visit for more race details and stay connected to upcoming trail events on Facebook.

Race Calendar

Haunted Trails of the Night is Saturday, October 17th, 2015

5K and 10K Runs + “Family 5K Run/Walk”

Register now at:






No Name 5030 ~ Sunday, October 25th

15K ~ 30K ~ 50K Distances

Register today at:











It’s official!!! No Name 5030 will be Sunday, October 26, 2014.

Register now at

I will be producing the first ever ultra distance trail race through the canyons of Cheeseboro National Park in Agoura Hills, California ~ No Name 5030 offers distances of 50K, 30K and 15K. Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on race details.

Coming in 2015 ~ socalultrarunning will be launching Trail Running Escapes!!! We will be offering 5 day trail running camps in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains from January through April. In the summer of 2015, we’ll be taking our love on the road to Oregon where we will set up base camp in Bend for 6 days of trail running in the Deschutes and Willamette Forest areas.

Please visit our website at: for more details.

My passion is running and unless you stumbled onto my site by accident, you would know this about me already. Last year I took the step of marrying my older love of event production and joined it with my running passion to produce a series of trail races with my business partner Janna Williams. Sunset Trail Series ~ Malibu Nights is an 8 week 5K trail race series set in the beautiful mountains of Malibu, California. We hope to bring another season of STS~Malibu Nights in 2015.

Visit for more information. 

Coming in May 10, 2014, E & J Productions will be bringing you Run For The Kids. A 10K, 5K and 1K Kids Run through lovely Woodley Park around Lake Balboa in Encino, California. Proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and St. Jude’s Research Hospital. An awesome reason to run…besides your love of it!                                                        Registration is open now at imATHLETE  


Sunset Trail Series~Malibu Nights

What’s your challenge?

Brothers vs. Sisters * Starbucks vs. Coffee Bean * Montagues vs. Capulets

We invite you to to bring it! Maybe leave the swords at home, but invite your friends, family and colleagues to show you what they’ve got. Bring your competitive spirit to Malibu Nights and we’ll do the rest. Join us for one showdown or challenge your friends, family and colleagues to a series showdown.

Register today at:

Let the series begin. See you in September!


National Running Day – Wednesday, June 5

To help celebrate National Running Day, on Wednesday June 5th, Conejo Valley Trail Runners will have FOUR runs.  Come to one, or come to all!
5:30 a.m. – Sunset Hills – Bard Reservoir
Meet us at the end of Sunset Hills Blvd to enjoy a run on the Woodridge Trail.   The run is mostly single track to include some climbing with rewarding views of the Bard Reservoir.  The run is approximately 4 miles but it is easy to add additional mileage. There are no restrooms or water sources available.
From the 23 freeway, head east on Sunset Hills Blvd for approximately one mile to the dirt parking lot on the right side of the street.  The trail head is on the other side of the street from the parking lot.
6:30 a.m. – Sunset Hills – Woodbridge Trail
After regrouping and picking up the next group of runners, we will head back out on the trails, but this time we will head out towards Woodranch via the Woodbridge Trail.  Depending upon time, we will climb Long Canyon Trail into Lang Ranch.
From the 23 freeway, head east on Sunset Hills Blvd for approximately one mile to the dirt parking lot on the right side of the street.  The trail head is on the other side of the street from the parking lot.
8:30 a.m. – Lang Ranch – Albertson Motorway
Round three of our four part National Running Day celebration will be meeting at the end of Lang Ranch Parkway. We will follow the Albertson Motorway to the top near China Flats, Simi Peak and Palo Comado. The out portion is all up, but gradual yet consistent. The one way distance is approximately 4 miles, so choose your distance. Once on top you can choose to continue or turn around for a nice downhill to round out ~8 miles. No restrooms or water sources. Exposed trail.
From the 101 Freeway, take Westlake Blvd. north to Lang Ranch Parkway.  Make a right – follow Lang Ranch Parkway to end. Trail head is on right and street parking available.
6:30 p.m. – Lang Ranch – Oakbrook Vista Trail
Meet us at Lang Ranch Parkway at the Oakbrook Vista trail head which is about 1/4  mile from Westlake Blvd. on the right side of the street.  This is a moderate run with around 1,100 feet of elevation gain to include some technical parts.  Beautiful sunset views of Lang Ranch will be your reward! There are no restrooms or water sources available.
From the 101 Freeway, take Westlake Blvd. north to Lang Ranch Parkway.  Make a right – the trail head is about 1/4 mile on the right side of the street.

The Truth Be Told

” Coach Erica – Thank you for helping me realize my goal of running 50 miles. I’m so glad that I chose to have you be my coach in what has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. You told me to trust the plan and I did and come race day I’ve never felt so ready for a race.  Your knowledge, energy and the solid advice was priceless Thank you for pushing me to the level that I needed, to be able to cover the distance and to be able to cover the distance feeling really great.  The Sean O’ Brien 50 didn’t stand a chance!!   Thank you. “ Pete C ~ Camarillo, Ca

” With the guidance of my running coach Erica Gratton, not only was I able to achieve my goals, but I did so with flying colors. Erica’s plan, specifically designed for me and my needs, guided me across the finish line of my first ultramarathon. Her professionalism and dedication to my success gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. I look forward to working with Erica on many more races to come.” Terry Britten ~ Thousand Oaks, Ca

” Even though we live across the country from one another, Erica’s customized training plan for me, notes of constant encouragement and checking in on me-have without a doubt made me a better runner. And of course her review of my running logs have made me realize the opportunity I have to continue improving! My interest in trail running is now spiked as well. I look forward to many years of working with Erica and to hitting personal goals that seemed beyond my reach prior to her encoragement and coaching!”  Tracy Manning ~ Cumming, Georgia

” I just started running and training with Erica and I saw improvement right away with my form, my speed and distance. I have never been able to run anymore than 3 miles and now I’m running up to 7 miles a couple times a week. She is so encouraging and up beat and gives motivation to run more and keep getting faster. Can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me. Love you girl!!”  Deanna Harkess ~ Oak Park, California

” Erica coached me for my first Tough Mudder mud-run. On our excellent and brutal trail runs she taught me breathing techniques, diet and gear prep, as well as how to prepare mentally for the race, among many other things. As a newcomer to long distance running and experiences like mud-runs, it was Erica’s coaching that made my experience with the race a total blast. Now I’m totally addicted and signed up for more. Thanks, Erica. Thanks a lot!” Matt Eason ~ Thousand Oaks, California

“The best thing about working with Erica is that even though she is a hard core athlete, she makes me feel like I am just like her! I am a working mom and wife who is simply trying to be my best. With Erica guiding my steps, she encourages and cheers me on to a greatness I never knew I had in me.” Kelly Pacillas ~ Malibu, California

Coaching services


Custom online coaching available – Have a race date in mind and need assistance preparing? If not, I will pick a race and we’ll work backwards in designing a program specifically for you. Training log provided and reviewed on a weekly basis.

Personalized training programs – Individualized running programs specific to your goals. Training log provided and reviewed on a weekly basis. Redesigned, if necessary, to adjust to lifestyle or fitness changes at no additional charge.

One on One running sessions – One on one running sessions. Video analysis and form critique. Individual assessments and/or weekly accompanied training runs available.

Guided trail runs – New to the trails? Guided one on one or group trail runs. Fun for groups that want to spend an afternoon on the trails, but don’t know where to begin. No expiration date. Transferable. No equipment required. Water provided.

Kid specific trail runs – Have an adventurous kid? Let’s hit the trails. I will guide your child and friends, because it’s always more fun with friends…on a fun, educational trail run/walk. Designed specifically for your child.

Need help finding a race in your area? Looking for a local running store? Want to go faster, further, or run injury free? Ask me how I can help.

Network of health and fitness professionals. Recommendations available upon request.

Email me directly at  or call (805) 807-8022 

to discuss your future in running.

Prices vary depending on services rendered.

Video analysis – $50/session

One on one personalized training sessions – $50/session

Personalized training programs start at $350/8 weeks

Heaven and Earth

Between Heaven and Earth there is a little bit of Skye.

And I don’t mean the blue kind.

I mean Skye Colclough.

Skye has been a runner her whole life. She ran cross country in high school, then started a family and…well, you know how that story goes. Nearly twenty years, three sons and two cross country moves later, Skye was consumed by her family and career. Until I moved in next door.

I reintroduced Skye to trail running a little over a year ago. She has a natural talent, but running on the trails made Skye a stronger runner. Building her core strength, road racing is almost a breeze.

Skye recently won her age class at the Malibu marathon on Sunday, November 13 and placed a very impressive eighth Female overall.

Congratulations to Skye.

Rest, recover and I’ll meet you on the trails.